La Retraite sisters to leave town after being in Weston 
for more than a hundred years

PUBLISHED: 08:00 23 September 2017

Sisters Patricia, Eileen, Pauline and Jean in the garden of La Retraite. Picture: Eleanor Young

Sisters Patricia, Eileen, Pauline and Jean in the garden of La Retraite. Picture: Eleanor Young

Archant

The sisters of a Weston-super-Mare convent will leave this autumn after more than a century in the town.

La Retraite South Road in the early 20th century. Picture: Congregation of La RetraiteLa Retraite South Road in the early 20th century. Picture: Congregation of La Retraite

The remaining four sisters of the La Retraite convent, in Walliscote Road, will be moving away some 118 years after their predecessors first came to the area in 1899.

They will be moving to St Monica’s Trust Village in Keynsham, near Bristol.

Sister Patricia Talbot said: “We are getting to the stage where we need more care so we will be closing the house.

“We will be sorry to leave but we know that this is for the best; with the age we are it’s the sensible thing to do.”

The sisters of La Retraits circa 1947. Picture: Congregation of La RetraiteThe sisters of La Retraits circa 1947. Picture: Congregation of La Retraite

THE HISTORY

La Retraite, meaning The Retreat in French, created a safe and quiet space for women to come together, think and pray.

The Weston convent was founded at the end of the 19th century after sisters from France moved across the channel. The religious congregation was founded in 1675, becoming the first to open spiritual retreats for women.

During the French revolution the sisters were dispersed, but later reunited and moved to England to open new retreat houses and schools.

Sister Patricia told the Mercury: “They had little resources and were suspected by many people because they were Roman Catholics.”

THE SCHOOLS

The sisters were responsible for setting up and running two schools in the area, one a day and boarding school for girls and the other a free primary school.

The first was La Retraite Roman Catholic Girls’ School, which was open until 1971.

The second was St Joseph’s Primary School which was run by the sisters until it was transferred to the Clifton Diocese.

It was renamed Corpus Christi Catholic Primary School when it moved to Ellenborough Park South alongside the church.

Sister Patricia said: “We have kept strong links with the school and also were involved with the parish and youth work, retreat days and have worked with the deaf and disabled.”

A Thanksgiving mass will be held at Corpus Christi Church at 7pm on October 10 to thank the sisters for their work in the town. It will be followed by a reception in the school.

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